Bernie Sanders’ campaign has hit back strongly at DNC chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s insinuation that it is the Vermont senator who is responsible for the growing division within the Democratic Party.
Sanders’ campaign and an overwhelming number of his supporters are now calling for Schultz’s head, arguing that the DNC chairwoman has been unfavorably disposed toward their candidate ever since the beginning of his campaign, an accusation that gained weight after liberal pundits all seemed to agree on it.
Speaking after the ruckus at the Nevada state convention, where several Bernie Sanders supporters accused the party of using underhand ways to give Hillary Clinton an undue advantage and raised slogans against the state party leadership, Debbie Wasserman Schultz said that the Vermont senator was adding “fuel to fire” by not condemning the violence forcefully enough, something which has not gone particularly well with a major section of Democratic voters.
— James Zatolokinbern (@jameszatolokin) May 20, 2016
Responding to Wasserman Schultz’s accusation, Jeff Weaver, Bernie Sanders’ campaign manager, told CNN that the wrath of Sanders’ supporters is directed particularly at the DNC chairwoman and not at the party itself. Adding that she had been “throwing shade” at the Vermont senator since the beginning of his campaign, he said that her latest statement only turned on the heat on some long-simmering tensions within the party.
Jonathan Tasini, a CNN commentator and a Bernie Sanders supporter, wrote a scathing op-ed asking U.S. President Barack Obama, to use his power to remove the DNC chair from her position. Arguing that Debbie Wasserman Schultz had not been neutral towards the two Democratic candidates — a prerequisite for anyone in her position — he wrote that the DNC chairwoman’s unhinged favoritism of Clinton could be detrimental to the future of the party.
“It is clear that the Democratic Party is headed for a tumultuous convention, one in which advocates for two very different visions of what the party should stand for will wrestle to try to shape its platform — not to mention nominate our standard bearer. In this process, we will need to look up to the podium to see a leader who can rise above the fray to inspire confidence on both sides. Wasserman Schultz does not meet that standard.
“As an individual, Wasserman Schultz has every right to support a candidate. However, the position of Democratic National Committee chair requires resolute neutrality, both in perception and in practice. Yet at major milestones in the primary race, Wasserman Schultz’s actions have been anything but neutral — to the extreme detriment of the party.”
Tasini’s, as well as Weaver’s, list of accusations against Wasserman Schultz includes her setting up debates between Clinton and Sanders on weekends allegedly to keep the Democratic front-runner insulated, blocking Sanders’ campaign from accessing the Democratic Party voter database in December, and now accusing the Sanders campaign of fomenting violence at the Nevada state convention.
— Frances Fisher I❤️99 (@Frances_Fisher) May 19, 2016
According to the Washington Post, Weaver and Tasini are not the only ones accusing Debbie Wasserman Schultz of using underhand tactics, as well as her position as the head of the DNC, to support Hillary Clinton throughout the nominating process.
Responding to Schultz’s accusation, CNN commentator Van Jones said that it was the DNC chair who was “adding fuel to fire” and not Sanders.
“She says that Bernie’s adding fuel to the fire? She just added fuel to the fire,” he said before adding that if was a Clinton supporter who was arrested in Nevada for causing “violence” and not a Sanders’ supporter.
‘The problem that we have right now is that there has been this concern on the part of Bernie’s people that the DNC has been on Hillary’s side…. First of all, Bernie did say, in his statement, that he’s against the violence. Also, if you want to talk about violence, only one person’s been arrested — it was a Hillary Clinton supporter, Wendell Pierce, arrested for assaulting a Sanders supporter.”
MSNBC’s Mika Brzezinski went a step further, arguing that Debbie Wasserman Schultz should step down from her position.
“This has been very poorly handled from the start. It has been unfair, and they haven’t taken him seriously, and it starts, quite frankly, with the person that we just heard speaking [Wasserman Schultz]. It just does…. She should step down. She should step down.”
It appears unlikely that the DNC will seriously consider these suggestions by a wide section of Democratic voters and pundits, but if it does not pay heed to the accusations against Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the party could be in for one of the most tumultuous conventions of recent times.
[Photo by Paul Morigi/Getty Images]